Jet Liís much-heralded return as Wong Fei-Hong is in a respectably
solid, if not well-acted, kung-fu western. Plot: Wong
Fei-Hong travels with Aunt Yee (Rosamund Kwan), and Clubfoot
(Xiong Xin-Xin) to America to visit Buck Tooth Sol (this time
played by Chan Kwok-Bong, who essayed the character in the
TV serial), in a U.S. branch of Po Chi Lam.
Along the way,
the group picks up a righteous gunslinger called Billy, whoís played
by the blonde and not-so-great Jeff Wolfe. Things go bad
during a raid on their wagon train, Wong loses his memory
and falls in with the Native Americans. Yee and Clubfoot meet
up with Sol, but they canít find Fei-Hong. Meanwhile, baddies
plot to act badly and rob banks.
The film's storyline seems entirely
geared toward finding a bad guy to beat up in the second hour.
When said bad guy appears, he's able to do some semi-decent
kung-fu, which requires some suspension of disbelief but not
enough to make the film less than enjoyable. Essentially the
film is plotless, which is not surprising since this was a
Tsui Hark production directed by Sammo Hung. At the very least,
Jet Li shows some terrific presence and charisma. Despite
Zhao Wen-Zhouís excellent (and even underrated) take on Wong
Fei-Hong, the role is really Liís.
Ultimately, this is an entertaining
film that suffers from an unfocused plot and some incredibly
bad acting from the usual suspects (unknown gweilo actors). Strange as it is, of the three big New Yearís movies
this year (the other two being Mr. Nice Guy and Allís
Well, Endís Well '97), this is easily the best one. It's
a rarity when a Jet Li film can top both Jackie Chan and Stephen
Chow, but they managed to pull that off here. (Kozo 1997)